American Vetch is a robust, winder hardy, genetically diverse legume. It is a native perennial legume that is adapted to most conditions, but will readily grow in xeric conditions.
This is the only vetch native in the Prairie area. It’s range in North America is Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Western Quebec, South to California, New Mexico, Kansas, Ohio, West Virginia and Vermont. American Vetch occurs as two varieties, one variety grows in moist grasslands and is low growing; another is common in shrubbery and tree groves and can reach 80cm tall. Stems are slender and weak, usually below 40cm in length, but growing in a twining nature, up to 80cm.
The Vetch is an attractive forbe, blooming from June to August. The showy flowers are pea like, reddish purple, about 2.5cm long and are attractive to native pollinators. American Vetch is palatable and grazed well by cattle, although vetches have a low grazing tolerance and are easily grazed out. This important prairie legume adds nitrogen to the soil making no additional nitrogen fertilizer necessary.
Vicia Americana is easily grown from seed that has been properly scarified and stratification has been applied to the seed stock just prior to seeding. Inoculation is also important to get the seedling off to a good start; a commercial pea-vetch inoculant is fine to use. Vegetative propagation by rhizome cutting in the spring is very successful as well.